"Pressing for progress – in my career and our workplace – this International Women’s Day"
Below is an article originally written by Katie Brown, Executive, General Manager for the Midwest Great Lakes territory at PowerToFly Partner Avanade, and published on March 3, 2020. Go to Avanade's page on PowerToFly to see their open positions and learn more.
Pressing for progress is the perfect theme for International Women's Day because it has so many different meanings. To be a woman and a leader in the tech industry is something that required me to press for progress in my career, but also for many before me to press for progress in the industry. To get to where I am, I had to press. But for women to continue to rise, we all have to press, and we have to create avenues within our system for women to be successful.
My first job out of college was with a consulting company called Software Architects. Even though it had 500 employees in 10 offices across North America, it had a tight-knit family culture. It felt like everyone knew everyone, and we did great work on fun projects. I loved it so much I thought I would retire at the company. But when Software Architects got bought by another, larger consulting firm, that culture evaporated almost immediately, so I went looking to replace what I had experienced before.
A former colleague recommended Avanade to me, and I wasn't sure it would be the right fit because it was another bigger company. But the more I asked around and interviewed, I realized Avanade had that same tight-knit, collaborative feel. When I joined 13 years ago, just a few years out of college, I felt at home.
That open, friendly culture is important to me for a lot of reasons, but one of the biggest is that it's such a difference-maker for women. I think many women are very caring and personal by nature – we're more likely to talk to people about their personal lives and get to know them on a deeper level. But what I've found at Avanade is everyone – men and women alike – shares that. Other male-dominated tech companies might have a colder culture that keep women from being themselves in the workplace, inhibiting them from doing their best work. At Avanade, I know all about my colleagues' families, hobbies and lives because people feel comfortable bringing their full selves to work.
That same openness has allowed me to feel safe to voice discomfort or concern. I've been here over a decade, and I'm proud to say I can count on one hand the times someone said something that made me second-guess their meaning. But when I have felt uncomfortable as a woman in the workplace, Avanade's culture has empowered me to approach that person directly with my concerns. And we also have structures in place that if a person didn't want to handle it directly, they could report concerns (anonymously or not), or lean on support systems. So many of the barriers women face professionally can be dissolved by a supportive and inclusive culture – something I've seen play out at Avanade again and again.
It blows my mind that I'm 13 years into a career at Avanade and now the territory executive for the Great Lakes. That beginning feels like just yesterday. I had the privilege of being the executive sponsor for the Midwest new hires last July, many of whom were freshly out of college. I told them that when I started, I didn't think of myself as a potential future leader within our business, but that's what each of them is. If they want that, they can make it happen with the support that exists here at Avanade.
And just because Avanade does a good job does not mean there isn't progress to be made. I'm encouraged by the fact that we now differentiate female diversity percentages between internal roles and external, client-facing ones. We are making conscious decisions to recruit and hire diverse talent. I also think about maternity and paternity leave; Avanade doubled those in the U.S. in recent years to create that supportive culture for parents, which also makes us more competitive when recruiting mothers. Equal pay, equal opportunity for hiring, and progressive family leave all help us press forward, understanding that the work is never done and we are so much better for undertaking it.
Diversity Reboot 2021: The One Hundred Day Kickoff<p><strong>When</strong>: February 1-5, 2021</p><p><strong>Where</strong>: Virtual</p><p><strong>Price to register:</strong> Free!</p><p><strong>Where to register: </strong><a href="https://summit.powertofly.com/" target="_blank">Here</a></p><p>We had to include our own Diversity Reboot on our list of the best diversity and inclusion events to attend in 2021 because we know firsthand how the quality of 100+ expert speakers, the enthusiasm of 10,000 participants, and the cutting-edge tech that enables meaningful virtual networking and job fairs combine to create a truly epic five-day experience. This year, the theme 100 Day Kickoff harnesses the energy of the new government's first 100 days in office to help jump-start personal and professional plans to build more diverse and inclusive workplaces. </p><p>Following the February summit, we'll have a monthly series of smaller virtual summits on topics spanning everything from returnships to LGBTQ+ advocacy, so be sure to stay tuned for updates!<br></p>
The Future of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion 2021<p><strong>When</strong>: February 3-4, 2021</p><p><strong>Where</strong>: Virtual</p><p><strong>Price to register:</strong> Free</p><p><strong>Where to register:</strong> <a href="https://www.hr.com/en/webcasts_events/virtual_events/upcoming_virtual_events/the-future-of-diversity-equity-and-inclusion-2021_kcxf8glq.html#detail" target="_blank">Here</a></p><p>This virtual conference put on by HR.com focuses on how social movements like #MeToo and Black Lives Matter have pushed DEI at work beyond legal compliance and into a major factor of any company or brand's culture, employee engagement, and performance. Topics include how to uncover and resolve pay gaps across your team and hire top-level diverse talent.</p>
Workplace Revolution: From Talk to Collective Action<p><strong>When</strong>: March 8-12, 2021</p><p><strong>Where</strong>: Virtual</p><p><strong>Price to register: </strong>$820</p><p><strong>Where to register:</strong> <a href="https://cvent.me/ZQ4BbE" target="_blank">Here</a></p><p>The Forum on Workplace Inclusion's 33rd annual conference includes 12 session tracks, from DEI Strategy to Social Responsibility, along with 59 workshops and daily networking sessions. This year's theme focuses on one question: "What will it take to start a workplace revolution that moves us from talk to action?"</p>
Diversity: How Employers Can Match Words With Deeds<p><strong>When</strong><strong>: </strong>May 19, 2021</p><p><strong>Where:</strong> Virtual</p><p><strong>Price to register</strong><strong>: </strong>Early bird registration is $49 and general admission is $149</p><p><strong>Where to register:</strong> <a href="https://hopin.com/events/may-virtual-conference-diversity-how-employers-can-match-words-with-deeds" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Here</a></p><p>From Day One is hosting monthly conferences in 2021 focused on different ways for companies to foster strong relationships with their customers, communities, and employees. May's half-day virtual event is focused specifically on how companies can make diversity promises that don't fall flat and features workshops, panels, and a fireside chat.</p>
Hire with Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion<p><strong>When:</strong> August 18, 2021</p><p><strong>Where: </strong>Virtual</p><p><strong>Price to register: </strong>$195</p><p><strong>Where to register:</strong> <a href="https://www.hci.org/conferences/2021-virtual-conference-hire-diversity-equity-and-inclusion-august-18-2021" target="_blank">Here</a></p><p>This conference put on by the Human Capital Institute is one of 12 virtual conferences that HCI has planned for 2021. This one focuses on fair and inclusive talent acquisition, including how to attract diverse talent, implement inclusive hiring practices, and addressing bias in employee selection. Other conferences will focus on optimizing talent strategy, engaging employees, and developing your workforce.</p>
Virtual Grace Hopper Celebration 2021<p><strong>When:</strong> September 26-29, 2021</p><p><strong>Where:</strong> Virtual, broadcast from Chicago, Illinois</p><p><strong>Price to register:</strong> Was $799 for regular access to the virtual conference in 2020; 2021 pricing hasn't yet been announced</p><p><strong>Where to register:</strong> <a href="https://ghc.anitab.org/attend/registration/" target="_blank">Here</a>, though 2021 registration wasn't live at the time of writing</p><p>Grace Hopper might be the best-known conference for women in tech. Through keynote presentations, networking sessions, job fairs, and community-building activities, vGHC reached over 30,000 women for their 2020 conference and are expecting even more in 2021! While not a conference focused exclusively on diversity and inclusion, many speakers plan to focus their talks on creating environments for women to thrive in the male-dominated tech field.</p>
Inclusion 2021<p><strong>When:</strong> October 25-27, 2021</p><p><strong>Where:</strong> Virtual and in person in Austin, Texas as of now</p><p><strong>Price to register:</strong> Hasn't yet been announced</p><p><strong>Where to register: </strong><a href="https://conferences.shrm.org/inclusion" target="_blank">Here</a>, though 2021 registration wasn't live at the time of writing</p><p>The Society for Human Resource Management's biggest conference of the year saw 1,200 DEI leaders participate last year; SHRM hopes to see even more come to learn, be inspired, and to walk away with a playbook of implementable strategies to create truly inclusive workplace cultures.</p>
AfroTech 2021<p><strong></strong><strong>When:</strong> November 8-13, 2021</p><p><strong>Where:</strong> Virtual</p><p><strong>Price to register:</strong> Early bird pricing is $149 for individuals and $249 for corporate attendees; regular pricing hasn't yet been announced</p><p><strong>Where to register:</strong> <a href="https://experience.afrotech.com/" target="_blank">Here</a></p><p>AfroTech is a conference hosted by Blavity, a tech media platform for Black millennials. It focuses on emerging tech trends, connecting Black talent with top tech recruiters, and providing networking and educational opportunities, with an overall goal of building a strong Black tech community. Over 10,000 people participated in 2020. While the conference isn't focused specifically on DEI, its main audience of Black tech talent is an important one to understand and to engage at work and beyond, and several speakers plan to focus on issues of race and inclusion at work. </p>
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